University Archives


Lenny Bruce Trail Blazer for 1st Amendment, Archive of 4 Photographic Prints, Probably Unpublished

Set of four photographic prints of Lenny Bruce, varying conditions. Provenance: "Count" Lewis DePasquale; by descent

1. A glossy 8" x 10" sheet with 3 punch holes to the left margin. The sheet is mostly blank with a strip and a half of images. Lenny Bruce sitting at a desk, behind him hang two banners with disposing contrasting images, one of the Nazi Germany Reich symbol, the other showing the Star of David.

2. A strip of contact sheet prints of Lenny Bruce standing with a microphone likely during a stand-up routine, 1.5" x 9.25". Edges slightly rough cut.

3. An artistic 7.75" x 10" black and white photographic print of Lenny Bruce taken during one of his stand up routines. Slight nicks to edges.

4. A contact strip of images of Lenny Bruce standing up with a mic, again appearing to be at one of his performances. 4.75' x 10".

A unique set of candid Lenny Bruce prints. 

Bruce’s rise to prominence began in the 1950s. A stand-up comedian, his knack for weaving profanity and scathing honesty into his routines made him a hit on the club circuit. By the early 1960s, he had been dubbed “the most shocking comedian” of the day. His act led him to some of the most prestigious venues in the country, including New York’s hallowed Carnegie Hall. Tragically, the same biting use of satire that was responsible for his rise to fame also facilitated his undoing.  In modern times, Lenny Bruce’s legacy is that of a martyr for his suffering at the hands of those who believed his stand-up comedy was too “obscene” for its time. The irony is that his comedy is now recognized for paving the way for much of modern comedic entertainment. Of course, the downside to martyrdom is that the martyr rarely lives to see his name championed. Although his influence spans everything from the sets of modern comedians to the pages of popular comic books, Bruce’s battle with uptight authorities cost him his career, his livelihood, and ultimately his life.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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